Immunosuppression in pregnant women infected with human immunodeficiency virus

Robert J. Biggar, Savita Pahwa, Howard Minkoff, Hermann Mendes, Anne Willoughby, Sheldon Landesman, James J. Goedert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


One hundred two pregnant women at high risk of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (62 who were drug abusers and 40 of Haitian origin) were prospectively examined for immunologic changes during and after pregnancy. Among the 63 human immunodeficiency virus-negative women, levels of CD4+ (helper) cells fell to a nadir at 8 weeks before delivery and rose rapidly just before delivery. The level of CD8+ (cytotoxic/suppressor) cells rose slowly from midpregnancy to delivery. Among the 37 human immunodeficiency virus-positive pregnant women, levels of CD4+ cells fell during pregnancy (except for a transient weak increase just before delivery) and did not recover in the postpartum period. Levels of CD8+ cells were consistently higher in human immunodeficiency virus-positive than human immunodeficiency virus-negative women. Post partum the CD8+ cells in human immunodeficiency virus-negative women stabilized at delivery levels, whereas they increased greatly in human immunodeficiency virus-positive women. The loss of CD4+ cells in human immunodeficiency virus-positive women appeared to be faster during pregnancy than in the postpartum period. These data support the hypothesis that pregnancy may accelerate human immunodeficiency virus-induced depletion of CD4+ cells and increase the risk of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1239-1244
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • HIV
  • immunity
  • infants
  • pregnancy
  • T-lymphocytes
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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